The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has announced a new searchable database of 50 federal broadband programs, spanning a dozen federal agencies with billions of dollars for broadband grants, loans and other resources. The database, created with help of participating federal agencies, fulfills a goal set out in the American Broadband Initiative announced in February to make it easier for community leaders to find federal funding and permitting information.
“Consolidating these critical resources into a one-stop, easy-to-use resource provides an important tool in spurring efforts to expand our nation’s broadband infrastructure projects,” said Diane Rinaldo, Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information.
The federal programs provide funding for state and local governments, schools, libraries, small businesses and other community institutions that are interested in expanding broadband access. Applicants can search for programs by agency, program purpose and eligible recipients. The inventory includes well-known infrastructure efforts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Communications Commission. A number of other programs offer grants and loans for targeted purposes or specific regions of the country.
For instance, the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration provides economic development grants that can be used to support broadband infrastructure projects, digital skills training and smart cities development. The agency’s FY2018 funding of $600,000,000 was mainly targeted for weather-related disaster relief but also supported broadband projects. In May, EDA announced it was investing $290,000 to help the Seneca Nation of Indians plan and install broadband fiber throughout the Cattaraugus Territory in Western New York. And in March, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced a $1 million grant to St. Joseph County, Indiana, to expand high-speed broadband infrastructure in a project expected to create 230 jobs and spur $710 million in private investment.
Other programs in the NTIA inventory that recently made broadband grants include:
- The Appalachian Regional Commission awarded a $40,000 grant to the SEDA-Council of Governments (link is external) last October, a public development organization serving 11 Central Pennsylvania counties, for a feasibility study of broadband access in Northumberland, Union, Lycoming, and Clinton Counties.
- The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) provided a nearly $250,000 grant to address Native American digital access in New Mexico and the potential of TV Whitespace (TVWS) networks to improve tribal internet connectivity.
As the U.S. works to fill the gaps in connectivity that persist despite significant investments, NTIA is developing a new mapping platform that paints a more precise picture of the current infrastructure and services that are available around the country. This will help policymakers make better decisions about how broadband funds should be allocated.
NTIA’s most recent Internet Use Survey found that nearly 28 million households did not use the Internet at home, including 5 million living in rural areas. NTIA, the Department of Commerce and the Trump Administration are committed to putting the right tools in the hands of local leaders and service providers, to expanding opportunities so that all Americans benefit from our digital future.